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The Church Of St. Cyprian

History Of Our Church
Its Origins commencing 1890

Up to the beginning of the 1880's, many of the residents in Bridgetown lived on the top floors of their respective places of business. Many of the stores in early Swan Street were built with a ground floor, that is, street level, the first floor being planned to accommodate a drawing room, a dining room and a verandah overlooking the street below. The top floor was planned to accommodate three or four bedrooms for the convenience of a merchant owner.

Just around this time, there lived two men of vision who saw that many of the merchants wished to reside out of the town but significantly near to their businesses that, if necessary, they could walk to their place of business from home. An area, which presented itself for such residential development was Belle Ville, which was near to Government House and through the eastern end of which, Pine Road had been cut in 1851 to link Government House with the military installations around the Garrison Savannah. The two men of vision, who were also merchants in Bridgetown, were Mr. Samuel Manning and Mr. George Whitfield. Together, they owned much of the land, which is now Belleville. What they did not own, they bought up, including a property on the corner of the 7th Avenue and George Street. Here they purchased a property 10,800 square feet in area known as Emerald Villa and owned by the Barclay family. By Indenture dated July 16th, 1889, Messrs. Manning and Whitfield conveyed this plot 90 feet by 120 feet to The Right Reverend Herbert Bree, then Bishop of the Diocese of Barbados and The Very Reverend Thomas Clarke, the then Dean and Rector of St. Michael's Parish. The Indenture made it clear that this plot of land was to be used to erect a Chapel of Ease of St. Michael's Cathedral. The land had to be used for such a Chapel then and in the future. If it were ever used for any other purpose, the land would have to be reappointed and reconveyed to the assigns and heirs of Mr. Samuel Manning and Mr. George Whitfield.

The corner stone of The Church of St. Cyprian was laid by Lady Sendall, the wife of the Governor, on the February 24th, 1890, the ceremony being conducted by Bishop Branch of Antigua, in the absence of Bishop Bree, who was in England. The cost of building the Chapel was defrayed entirely by voluntary contributions. Building operations, which were undertaken by Mr. John Blackman, were spread over some four years as donations came in. The Chapel was consecrated on September 26th, 1894 by Bishop Bree, who preached a sermon from the text "She hath done what she could." In later years, a northern aisle and porch were added and the building roofed with wood and shingles to replace the original galvanized roof. Two other plots of land were subsequently added. One of these plots was used to accommodate the Belleville School, later known as St. Winifred's School. The other plot was used as a tennis lawn for the pupils of the school. This plot has now been converted into a netball court, and is also used as a car park.

In 1892, the local Tramway Company extended its line from Trafalgar Square along Constitution Road and Belmont right up to Pine Road, where the line was laid as far as the 10th Avenue Belleville. This materially improved the residential amenity of Belleville, which had been enhanced by Messrs. Manning and Whitfield by the planting of some 700 Cabbage Palms plus Barbados Mahogany, Yellow Poui and other varieties of trees. Some of the Cabbage Palms are still standing in the area to this present day.

St. Cyprian, along with All Souls (another former Chapel of Ease) and St. Michael's Cathedral formed the Cathedral parish. This remained so until the early 1970's when both St. Cyprian and All Souls gained their independence and became separate parishes. In 1997, the church had its roof replaced and in November 1998, a Garden of Remembrance was dedicated where memorial tiles bearing the names of loved ones that have passed on are situated.

(Article written by the late Sir. Donald Wiles, a former member of the Parish family)